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Memorial service held for 107 victims of 2005 fatal train derailment in Hyogo

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Relatives of 107 victims of a train derailment in 2005 and JR West officials attended a memorial service on Wednesday at the site of the crash in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture.

A moment of silence was observed at 9:18 a.m., the exact moment the crash occurred 13 years ago. JR officials laid flowers at the site of the derailment on a section of the JR Fukuchiyama Line between Tsukaguchi and Amagasaki stations. Bereaved families also placed flowers at the site.

On April 25, 2005, a speeding train on the JR Fukuchiyama Line jumped the tracks on a tight bend during the morning rush hour and plowed into a residential tower. The driver and 106 passengers died in the accident, which also left 562 people injured in Japan's worst rail disaster for four decades. It was determined later that the 23-year-old driver had been going over the speed limit on a curve because he was running late. The driver had been disciplined twice before the accident for running behind schedule.

In the aftermath of the crash, four JR West executives were charged with professional negligence -- Shojiro Nanya, 72, Masao Yamazaki, 68, Masataka Ide, 78, and Takeshi Kakiuchi, 69. All four were found not guilty by the Kobe District Court.

Family members of the crash victims said JR West should have been held accountable for failing to take proper safety precautions such as installing an Automatic Train Stop (ATS) device that can stop a train from traveling too fast. The company's corporate culture of punishing employees for their mistakes was also harshly criticized.

But the court ruled that the four executives did not have proper opportunities to recognize the danger and that they were also not legally obliged to install such a device when the accident occurred.

Last June, an appeal filed by lawyers who served as prosecutors in the case was rejected by the Supreme Court.

The nine-story building, badly damaged in the crash, has been undergoing partial demolition work since January 2016 while preserving the accident damage. The project also includes the construction of a monument.

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13 Comments
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Casualties increased as a result of reducing the weights of vehicles - cars and trains. Old vehicles were heavy but they were safer.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Schopenhauer: "Casualties increased as a result of reducing the weights of vehicles - cars and trains. Old vehicles were heavy but they were safer."

The accident happened, period, because of the Japanese mentality that you absolutely must follow a schedule regardless of the cost, and the worst part is no JR staff paid for it (except the young driver with his life), none were punished, and they continue to push speed limits to maintain schedules and punish those who do not, or don't stop right at the white line, etc. A heavier car wouldn't have stopped that, and while it might not have been quite so crushed, it could have done a lot more damage when it crashed into the building, killing even more.

Policies like those of JR and others that put the cost of convenience and schedules over those of safety have to change; doesn't matter if it's accidents like this, Sports Days, bus trips, or what have you. And changes like that only start when you change at the top, and then hold those responsible responsible.

I remember this day very well. I often used to ride this route, and had ridden it the day before. That day I did not, but I got a call from my girlfriend at the time who was panicked and thought I might possibly have been on the train. She told me about it, I checked it out, and sure enough the tragedy was as she said. RIP to those lost.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

A line we use into Osaka and Kyoto. Sad and unnecessary lost of life and injuries.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I was curious as to the exact location, as I pass by on the Fukuchiyama Line sometimes.

The original building still shows on Google Maps, on the left side of the first curve after Tsukaguchi Station on the way to Amagasaki Station.

I'll try to post a link.

https://www.google.co.jp/maps/place/Amagasaki,+Hy%C5%8Dgo/@34.7430977,135.426505,80a,35y,180.99h,73.08t/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x6000efb488f2c329:0x93978126e69f7a8d!8m2!3d34.7337339!4d135.4063757

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I came across several scenes of car crashes and each time I saw cars flattened. I saw the pictures of the train accident and I was shocked seeing trains flew like airplanes and they were flattened like thin iron sheets after hitting buildings.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

must have cost a pretty penny to knock down the apartment building and put up the monument wonder where the money came from?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The driver didn't get a fair shake. He was a convenient scapegoat for those sorry executives.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@Mocheake - The driver didn't get a fair shake. He was a convenient scapegoat for those sorry executives.

This is not necessarily true. There were reports of the driver being suicidal. If these reports are factual, this would make this incident Japan's largest mass-murder by far.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

The original course of the railway line at the accident site was straight on, i.e. there was no bend in the track. For some reason the railway was rerouted, a curve put in, and the original rail line replaced by roads. You can see the original course quite clearly on satellite images.

If the line hadn't been rerouted the derailment would not have occurred. Whoever made that decision bears some of the blame (but won't receive any, being a JR executive).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

That accident was really shocking, and much more when I heard from the people who survived, watching on my TV. It was almost 1 week on every single news the whole day, seemed that 9.11 of NYC 4 years later. The only thing that its not described in this column would be how to avoid accidents like this catastrophic one. I heard a lot about many things were reformed from there, machinery to devices, the automation of digital time tables, etc... Actually I wanted to know if the workers(especially the drivers) are doing their training not exclusively learned by manuals but with displayed/visioned simulations of speed, malfunction and human errors, I hope they are and I really want to know about that, if it's performed in every JP railway/subways companies, there are in big numbers all Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was and am still living nearby there and I remember the helicopters hovering above when it happened.It was so noisy. Then I turned on the tv and was blown out by what had happened.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Scrote

If that's true, the train would have derailed at the next curve, which is even more pronounced (basically 90 degrees) than the curve where the crash occurred. Or maybe the driver intended on doing a hard brake at the last moment?

@Everyone

The executives were ultimately to be blame, and I'm all for it, but to say the driver was a victim is a stretch. Despite his age, only an idiot would value keeping his job over the lives of the passengers and other unfortunates, including himself

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Disillusioned: "This is not necessarily true. There were reports of the driver being suicidal. If these reports are factual, this would make this incident Japan's largest mass-murder by far."

No, the poster is correct. The kid was definitely made the scapegoat, because it was clear someone was going to take the fall. It is also known that he had been about a minute late on the last stop, had previously slightly passed a stopping line, and so he was being reamed out and constantly and told he MUST speed up to the point of compensating for the lateness. IF he was being suicidal, it was at the barrel of a gun. The execs are 100% to blame.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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